Debt ceiling comes again

Like a bad recurring dream, the need to raise the federal debt ceiling is coming again.

A story in The Wall Street Journal described Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew warning Congress that delaying raising the ceiling could threaten Social Security recipients, military pay and, gulp, income tax refunds.

The deal that ended the government shutdown just four months ago suspended the borrowing limit until Feb. 7. Yes, one day from now. That Feb. 7. The government will shuffle its bills around but is expected to run out of money by the end of the month.

Lew explained that, because of tax refunds, the government runs its biggest deficit in February year after year. The story said that last year the February deficit was $203.5 billion. Contrast that to April’s surplus of $112.9 billion. April, of course, is when a bunch of people pay the income taxes they owe the government.

For some reason, people getting refunds file early. The folks who owe drag their feet.

If Congress delays raising the debt ceiling, it could ruin the plans of those early filers. It could also throw in a monkey wrench into the economy.

Certainly, Congress wouldn’t be foolish enough to do such a thing in an election year. Yeah, sure. Remember the government shutdown? The same folks are still in charge.

Let’s hope Congress deals with the issue quickly. This week would be nice.

The country doesn’t need another standoff between the parties. Judging from how the stock market is acting, the economy doesn’t need another self-induced debacle either.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.